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   Chapter 27 Training the Walker Cassie Wilson Book 2

Training the Walker: Cassie Wilson Book 2 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 25209

Updated: 2018-03-14 11:14

Chapter 27

Cassie sat up in bed wide awake, her normal morning fuzziness missing completely. This was not a morning for a slow stretching and rising. She looked at her hand and for a second it glowed in the still night dark room. The glow faded and Cassie tried to tell herself she was imagining it. She blinked and the glow was gone. Her alarm clock still buzzed insistently. Cassie turned it off and slid out of bed. She moved directly to the shower, skipping her normal workout routine. Today, Herman had the morning off.

She showered and worries about what was about to happen mingled with questions about her dreams.

"I never dream, " Cassie said. "At least not that I remember." All of the elements seemed plausible and she was willing to admit that she could see where in her life they came from, but the dream felt like so much more that it was hard to dismiss completely.

"And then there was the glowing, " Cassie shut off the water and reached for the towel. She studied her hand a moment. It looked as it always did. She looked at her palms. There were no golden symbols evident on either of them. She toweled off, wrapped the towel around her and stepped out of the shower. She then dried her hair and stepped out of the bathroom, moving to the closet.

Her grandfather said that today would feature a ceremony followed by a celebration. She looked to the section of the closet featuring the fancier clothes she owned. "He also called the thing on the other side of the gate a ceremony, " she reminded herself. She looked at the shelf of folded jeans. She decided comfortable clothes she that would keep her warm and allow her to run if need be were a better option.

"I can always put a nice shirt under the heavy wool sweater and if I need to look nice, then I can take it off with my coat." Cassie dressed quickly and when it came to shoes she looked over her selection. Nothing was going to make her sneakers look fancy, but she wasn't going to wear heels when she might need to run. She looked back to her sneakers. Her morning running practice, archery, and outdoor excursions with Oliver left them anything but pristine. She did have one pair of ankle boots with a short chunky heel she thought she might be able to move fast in if it came down to it. "And the leather is nice."

Cassie pulled on the boots and then dressed, she returned to the bathroom. She pulled her hair into a ponytail so it was out of the way. Cassie swallowed hard and stared at herself in the mirror for a moment. Her eyes were wide and she knew she was breathing too hard.

"No pain followed by cake, " she told herself trying to calm down. She took a deep breath, held it and then let it out slowly. She tried washing the fear from her face and after a few minutes of thinking happy thoughts, her breathing was normal and her eyes no longer looked like she was ready to run away screaming in terror. There was nothing she could do about the belly full of frogs doing their morning calisthenics. Their jumping continued no matter what she told herself.

"But I don't look crazy scared, " she said. "That has to count for something right?" Her reflection didn't answer. Cassie set her hairbrush down and turned off the bathroom light. She went into the kitchen, but decided that breakfast was out of the question. She strongly suspected anything she managed to choke down would very shortly come back up.

Cassie moved to the living room and pulled her survival pack out of the front hall closet. She placed it on the couch and laid her coat next to it. She wondered if she would need it or if she should leave the bag at home. Unsure, Cassie paced the floor waiting for her grandfather's arrival.

It was not a long wait. To her surprise, he didn't come knocking at the garden door as he usually did. Instead he pulled into the driveway in an older model beige sedan. It was the sort of thing no one ever looked twice at when it passed them by and Cassie wondered if that was on purpose.

"He drives, " Cassie said as she peered out the window to see who was in the car. As she never saw her grandfather driving a car before she expected an early morning walk to their destination rather than a drive. Her grandfather got out of the car and walked to the front door. He fairly bounced on his feet with each step.

"Someone is excited today, " Cassie muttered to herself as she moved to open the front door. He showed none of her nerves. She was certain she should be excited, but instead felt filled with dread and dancing frogs.

"Morning and happy birthday, " he said giving her a hug as he reached the door.

"Thanks, " Cassie replied. He stepped inside as she walked over to her coat. She pulled the dangling scarf from one of the pockets and wrapped it around her neck. She swung the coat around her shoulders and jammed her arms into the sleeves.

"You won't need that, " he said gesturing to her survival pack. "Given Oliver no doubt helped you fill it, I'm sure it contains many useful items, but none of them will be needed today."

Cassie nodded as she fastened the toggles on her coat. Rather than reassuring her, his comment only increased her desire to take the bag with her. Cassie walked outside with her grandfather, casting one more glance at the pack waiting for her on the living room couch before closing and locking the door. She slipped her keys into her pocket and pulled out her gloves.

'Lots of people go through their days without carrying survival gear with them, ' she reminded herself as she moved to the waiting car. 'I'm not sure why I want it anyway, ' she tried telling herself as she opened the door and slipped into the passenger seat. 'Having it has never actually helped me before.' Cassie fastened her seatbelt and realized that she was starting to treat her survival pack as a security blanket.

'I suppose I can do without my binky, ' she told herself. Her grandfather backed out of the driveway. Something classical played on the radio. Cassie recognized it as Vivaldi, but as all of his violin compositions tended to blend together in her mind she couldn't identify which it was.

"You will be fine, " her grandfather told her.

"Sure, " she replied.

He smiled. They drove in silence, the heater bathing her in warm air while the music filled the empty spaces in the car. Cassie was surprised they were driving out of town rather than into the district. Somehow she suspected whatever was going to happen would happen in the district.

'Everything else seems to, ' she thought.

Her house was on the edge of the city in a neighborhood recently carved from farm land. Each of the houses, though situated near the road to give the impression of suburbia, had five acres of its own around it and each lot was separated from its neighbors by thick stands of trees. Cassie rarely thought about the fact that she was much closer to actual farm land than the city since all of her activities took her into town rather than away from it. She was surprised at how quickly the house lots ended and open country began.

With the ending of the subdivision, streetlights disappeared and as the sun was not yet in the sky Cassie felt almost as though they drove off the end of the universe. The car's headlights illuminated a path ahead of them, but darkness pressed in on all sides. It had a strange, otherworldly feel to it, like they were driving to a distant planet in a far off galaxy. The world she knew, even with its strangeness, was

ion to seeing the swamp land, she felt a sense of malice. Now, across the clearing she could feel that there was something off about him, like a discordant note, it jarred against her.

She didn't have long to think about it as panic started to set in. Enki was here. That meant he knew she wasn't normal. 'He is going to kill me.' Cassie saw the others turn towards Enki, the smiles falling from their faces. Scowls and snarls appearing. 'Even if they protect me now, they can't be with me all the time, ' she thought. The urge to run was strong, yet she felt glued into place, welded into the cold dirt of the clearing. 'I'm going to die, ' she thought.

"This is no place for you, " someone said. Cassie though it was the same man who drew the symbol on her left hand.

"I am allowed to seek out possible Walkers, we all decided that, " Enki smiled. "Well, most of us decided that. You were peculiarly absent when the decision was made. Even if not all of us want them dead, I'm allowed to look."

"She's not a Walker, " the dancing woman practically growled. Cassie shivered. At the moment she looked far more dangerous than Enki.

"No, " he said turning his attention to Cassie. "She isn't, is she? How very… unexpected."

"You aren't allowed to hurt her, " the woman who brought the stone bowl of water said.

"True, " Enki agreed. "But why would I kill her when having her around is going to prove to be so much more interesting?" Enki laughed darkly. "I can't wait to see how you explain this."

"You are not welcome here, " Abraham said.

"I'm leaving, " Enki said. "You can continue with your little woodland adventure." He looked directly at Cassie. "Happy Birthday, Cupcake, " he said. Enki bowed, straightened and then turned disappearing back down the path.

"Insufferable, " she heard someone mutter. Cassie was uncertain who. She started to shake. Abraham walked over. She noticed he was carrying her discarded clothes even though she didn't see him pick them up from anywhere.

"I wouldn't worry about him, " he told her. Cassie took her boots, tugging on her socks and boots quickly over feet that felt like frozen blocks of ice. "He now knows you aren't a Walker and that he is forbidden to harm you."

"Because it is more fun not to, " Cassie said, her teeth chattering. She took her coat from her grandfather and buttoned it up as quickly as her frozen fingers could move. He looped the scarf around her neck and handed her the gloves.

"And because it is not allowed, " he told her.

"So if I am not a Walker, what am I?" she asked.

"You are family, " he replied. He gestured to the others. "Our family." Cassie let her gaze scan the others and saw several nods of agreement.

"And what does that mean?" she asked.

"We don't know yet, " Abraham told her. "But now that you are of age, your abilities will come in and we can all find out together." He smiled down at her. "Don't worry. You are not alone. All of us will help you. But for now we have a birthday to celebrate."

"With a roasted pig, " Cassie said. She followed Abraham out of the center of the clearing and towards the others.

"I see she knows what's important at a festival, " the surfer said with a grin.

"There will be cake too, " Abraham told him. "It's a birthday."

Cassie looked back at the symbol burnt into the ground. "What about that?" she asked.

"What?" he replied looking over her shoulder. Cassie pointed to the ground.

"A couple of foot prints will hardly matter, " he told her. I think anyone coming here would be more distracted by the fallen trees and broken stone."

Cassie frowned and looked back. In the center of the burned symbol she could see the imprint of her feet in the dirt. She looked back to her grandfather and realized he couldn't see the symbol. Cassie looked around.

"I have to say, that was quite an entrance, " the woman with the granite eyes told her.

"Thank you, " Cassie said. "I think." She realized no one else saw the symbol either, or if they did they weren't talking about it. Cassie looked back at the ground. Already the symbol looked as though it was fading. 'They said something about sight, ' she remembered. 'Maybe that's why I can see it and they can't.'

"But now is not the time for worry, " Abraham continued. "Now is the time for celebration. And cake. Chocolate cake."

Cassie smiled. Despite the strangeness of the morning, she felt good. She felt a sense of comradery with these people and even if she didn't yet know exactly what she was, she wasn't alone and it seemed no one was going to try to kill her.

'And I get to go to my first party, ' she thought. Cassie looked to the east and saw the sun in the sky, covering the early morning in gold dust. She turned back to Abraham and the gathered others.

"Will there be candles for me to blow out?" she asked.

"Of course, " he told her. "It's a birthday party."

Together, they all turned and walked away from the rising sun.

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